‘Matrix’ bows to eager auds

Rallying round 'Revolutions'

Viva “Revolutions.”

That appeared to be the collective response of the most rabid fan base for “The Matrix” movies, as Warner Bros. unspooled franchise’s trilogy-completing “The Matrix Revolutions” in a simultaneously timed bow around the world.

U.S. exhibs said the latest installment in the action fantasy series, again co-produced by Village Roadshow, drew enthusiastic auds for early showtimes starting at 6 a.m. on the West Coast and 9 a.m. in the East. Matinees sold out in many locations.

“The excitement seems to be there for the film,” AMC Entertainment spokesman Rick King said. “We had long lines and some sellouts for the day shows, and many shows were already sold out by mid-afternoon for the evening performances.”

A five-day bow in excess of $100 million seems certain domestically, and a $200 million-plus opening is expected worldwide with Keanu Reeves starrer unspooling on an unprecedented 18,000 screens globally.

“The (box office) numbers are phenomenal,” Warners domestic distribution prexy Dan Fellman said. “It’s going to be a big day. We’re looking at mega-numbers.”

Fellman declined to project a first-day gross, but signs were more than auspicious. A couple of Gotham theaters reported ringing up about $40,000 apiece by 11 a.m. — a mind-bending morning haul.

Sony’s “Spider-Man” holds the record for single-day box office with $43.6 million registered May 4, 2002.

Some 60 Imax venues figured among venues debuting “Revolutions,” and reports indicated sellouts at many of the locations.

In first-day activity internationally, Aussies flocked to the first sessions of “Matrix Revolutions” at 1 a.m. Thursday local time. The Sydney-lensed pic grossed $A665,000 ($465,000) at 144 locations.

“It’s a terrific result, and we’re very delighted,” said Brett Rosengarten, national sales director of Roadshow Films, the Oz distrib.

Rosengarten said the sci-fier pulled in 85% of the first-session haul for “The Matrix Reloaded.” But the dip was expected, as the first sequel started at the more aud-friendly hour of midnight.

Some Aussie industryites project “Revolutions” will wind up with about $18.2 million, which would be a handsome figure — although below the predecessor’s $23.1 million.

Expectations among European exhibs are generally high, though not through the roof due to decidedly mixed early reviews for the pic.

“The general consensus is that the franchise was hurt by the cheesy ‘Reloaded,’ which alienated many core fans of the first pic, and ‘Revolutions’ is not likely to bring them back,” said one German exec.

On the other hand, one Italo exhib enthused, “Our advance sales tickets were at 10,000 a month ago, (and) we feel sure that whoever saw the second one can’t not go to see the third.”

The 1999 original — a March opener that rung up just $27.9 million over its first three-day weekend — grossed $171.5 million domestically and $458.1 million worldwide. “The Matrix Reloaded,” which unspooled to an initial $134.3 million over four days last May, enjoyed a $281.5 million run in the U.S. and Canada and $735.7 million overall.

(Ed Meza in Berlin and Sheri Jennings in Rome contributed to this report.)

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